Didier Drogba has vowed to make amends for his Moscow misery by ending Chelsea’s long wait to be crowned kings of Europe in Saturday’s Champions League final against Bayern Munich.
Drogba has nothing but bad memories of his only previous appearance in the final of Europe’s elite club competition after being sent off in extra time as the Blues lost the 2008 showpiece to Manchester United in the rain-soaked Russian capital.
Drogba’s dismissal came late in extra-time when he slapped United defender Nemanja Vidic after a mass confrontation between players from both teams. With Drogba unable to take a penalty in the shoot-out, the Ivory Coast striker had to watch from the sidelines as John Terry and Nicolas Anelka’s spot-kick misses gifted the trophy to United.
As Chelsea laboured in vain to return to the Champions League final over the intervening four years, it seemed Drogba would never get the chance to erase that bitter memory.
But against all odds, Drogba and the rest of Chelsea’s collection of ageing stars have somehow made it back to the final after dramatic victories over Napoli, Benfica and Barcelona in the knockout rounds.
Now the 34-year-old plans to turn his Moscow pain into a moment of sweet redemption when Roberto Di Matteo’s side face Bayern in their own Allianz Arena in Munich this weekend.
“I’ve got a lot of disappointments but I’ve also had a lot of great moments in finals and I’m going to try to make sure for my teammates this is a good one,” Drogba said.
“After Moscow, most of us thought we were going to get into the final the next year. But you can see it’s very difficult to reach a final. It shows how much we deserve to be there this time because it’s been a few years.
“We did a great job to get past Barcelona but we have to do one more. Now it’s one more game to win.”
Drogba is Chelsea’s man for the big occasion and he underlined the point when his 8th goal in eight appearances at Wembley helped beat Liverpool 2-1 in the FA Cup final earlier this month.